Sen. Bernie Sanders, I Have Some Suggestions For You by Ralph Nader

Bernie Sanders - Painting

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
The Nader Page
August 7, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senate
332 Dirksen Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Sanders,

You’ve come a long way without my advice, but now that you are running for president, you may be interested in these suggestions:

  1. You’ve taken progressive positions on “decent paying job programs” such as investing in repairing our country’s public works, raising the minimum wage, strengthening labor laws, opposing the good-job-exporting, corporate-managed trade treaties such as NAFTA and WTO, and creating a Youth Job Corps. Now you need to make major addresses in greater detail on each topic before large audiences. The media coverage of these events will be very helpful during primary season.
  2. You need to identify with local and regional issues as you travel around the country and appear with the citizen or labor groups championing these pathways to justice. Just about all major presidential candidates assiduously avoid such identification for fear of some taint or gaffe when dealing with less common topics. You shouldn’t have this worry.
  3. As your polls rise and your audiences get larger, your opponents will challenge you for being a self-identified “socialist.” It is best to pre-empt them. Your socialist beliefs seem in-line with social democratic parties in Western European nations. So, while there are many examples of widely bipartisan support for socialist institutions – municipally owned utilities, regionally owned utilities like the giant Tennessee Valley Authority, and more – you are not interested in nationalizing industry and the banks. You are interested in breaking up giant “too big to fail” banks and reforming the governance of giant multinationals. Over eighty percent of the American people favor the breakup of large banks, want the Wall Street crooks prosecuted, convicted, and jailed, and oppose bailing out powerful big businesses. This is a Left-Right convergence issue – of Main Street against Wall Street.
  4. You need to expand your efforts to reach out to racial and ethnic minorities. Campaign in the low-income neighborhoods. Get to know the dynamic community groups and listen to the issues that they have been struggling with for decades. This is when your support of credit unions and well-equipped schools, call to end food deserts, focus on community policing, emphasis on tenant rights/remedies with building code enforcement, and concentration on good day care and accessible community health clinics through full Medicare for all, will resonate with their community interests.
  5. Emphasizing that you are campaigning with the people, not on stage before the people is what helps build the movement that will continue after the election– win or lose.
  6. In addition to your smaller-denomination fundraisers, why not have timeraisers – people pledging to support your campaign with hours of volunteer time. This creates opportunities for wider voter involvement.
  7. Since you are a U.S. Senator, why not develop a unified contract for [America]. Look how far New Gingrich got in 1994 with a contract that was against America, which he deceptively packaged as a focal point against his listless Democratic opponents in a landslide, Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.
  8. Look for advice and return more calls from your imaginative supporters. Being a successful lone ranger worked in Vermont, but campaigning across 50 states – and you must be the only one to go to every state as a presidential candidate – requires more congeniality and openness to the problems of many different constituencies.

Ralph Nader

from the archives:

The Lesser Evilism of Bernie Sanders by Sean Petty

Abby Martin and Ralph Nader: The Rigged Corporate Two-Party Dictatorship

Chris Hedges: Bernie Sanders is Lending Credibility to a Party That is Completely Corporatized, interviewed by Ralph Nader

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I Have Some Questions For You by Lo

Chris Hedges: Bernie Sanders Has Made No Mention of the Military, Part 3 + Our Night with Bernie by Bruce Gagnon

Bernie Sanders is no Eugene Debs by Howie Hawkins + Will Bernie Sanders Take on Hillary Clinton? by Ralph Nader

Chris Hedges: Bernie Sanders is Giving Legitimacy to the Democratic Party

Invest in Activism, Not Bernie Sanders by David Swanson + The Problem with Bernie Sanders by Ashley Smith

18 thoughts on “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I Have Some Suggestions For You by Ralph Nader

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  10. Good advice from Ralph Nader for Mr. Sanders. It would be fascinating to see Sanders, Nader, Stiglitz, Varoufakis, Lapavitsis, Ms. Brown and others on stage in a series of lengthy discussions on international finance/banking.

      • Lo,
        No, but I tried to find out a few months ago during a “Brunch With Bernie” episode when I asked him on-air if it wasn’t “time to nationalize the privately-owned Federal Reserve”. He responded to the other issue I raised, the trillion dollar per year global tax evasion/haven industry, but zero response to the Fed question.

        Thought about why exactly he didn’t respond, as it strikes one as almost a lie by omission. Thom Hartmann interviewed Ellen Brown years ago, and has more recently suggested a public banking option for the Post Office, then Hartmann has been hosting “Brunch With Bernie” for years, so it’s puzzling that the issue hasn’t been raised – there’s no record I’m aware of Sanders advocating for or against.

        If Jill Stein were to produce a speech and video explaining her reasons for nationalization of the Federal Reserve, and at the same time issued a direct challenge to both Democrat and Republican candidates for a conversation, her chances of eliciting a response from Mr. Sanders, and more importantly all candidates, are much better than mine.

        Public banking is an extremely important issue, as you are only too well aware. My simple view on political matters is that if there are better options, start the conversation already.

  11. These are darn good common sense suggestions from a man with lots of experience and a real champion of the people for his life, Ralph Nader! Good post, Lo.

    • I’ve met Nader, and it seems here that his ego has simply been offended by the outpouring of support for Bernie that he never really received. On each of these points, Sanders has either already adopted the suggestion on his own or recognizes the political implications of doing so. At a certain point progressives need to win an election if we want to see the historic change promised to us. And lest you think I’m a blind Sanders fan, I’ve spent time with him, too, and he’s got the same personality and arrogance that I find unappealing in Ralph. Both great on policy, both arrogant, but Sanders and his team is more politically astute.

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